J.P. Stevens picks up key win over East Brunswick

1 year ago
185 Views

Sure, Vishal Walia and Gokul Murugesan would love to play during those sunny afternoons, the kind of days perfect for tennis where your hands don’t shake and griping the racket feels natural.

But guess what?

“We can’t wait for that,” J.P. Stevens High School coach Ellen Pisano said. “They just have to grind it out. Everybody’s on the same playing field.”

No, teams must play in the wind and chill, and the Hawks passed their first Greater Middlesex Conference test with a 4-1 win over East Brunswick in a Red Division matchup on Wednesday. J.P. Stevens has captured three straight GMC Tournament titles, and this season, as usual, East Brunswick and South Brunswick are expected to provide the toughest challenges.

The Hawks, which play South Brunswick next week, staked their claim as the GMC team to beat in the early going Wednesday. There was little drama as J.P. Stevens won its four matches all in two sets. Pisano said she didn’t know what to expect, partly because the wind changes things.

“They all took a little bit of time today to adjust,” Pisano said. “And once they were warmed up, they got their confidence and seemed to finish everybody off pretty quickly.”

The most drama — and the longest match — came at first singles, where East Brunswick’s defending NJSIAA singles champion Josh Marchalik beat Walia 6-1, 7-6 (7-4). Walia led 4-1 in the second set before Marchalik rallied for the tie-break win with both teams and fans getting into it.

“Once you see Josh coming back, we’re like, ‘Oh no. Here he comes,’” Pisano said. “He just has it. He just seems to play better when he’s down. … (Walia) didn’t play badly, but Josh just made less errors. It really was the errors chart today.”

“He just doesn’t miss the ball. I’m happy I was just able to compete and fight, especially in the second set,” Walia said.

At second singles, Murugesan had the fastest match of the day with a 6-1, 6-1 win. But ask the two J.P. Stevens senior captains if they like playing in the cold, and you’ll get an answer in less than a second.

“No, I hate it,” Walia said.

“No,” Murugesan said. “Warmer’s definitely better. Even if it’s too hot, I’d rather play in hot weather than this weather.”

Both noted the cold has tangible affects as opposed to just discomfort. Players, for example, have to control the shot better because the balls don’t soften up, and the speed of play tends to be slower.

The conditions aside, also getting wins Wednesday for J.P. Stevens were Alex Telson at third singles, Arjun Krishnan and Gouttham Chandrasekar at first doubles and Nihar Prabhala and Tarush Aneja at second doubles.

The Bears, meanwhile, have four newcomers to the varsity lineup. Coach Allison Clay is hopeful that this early experience will help her team once the warm-up sweatshirts come off.

“We have players who don’t really have much mental experience at the varsity level,” Clay said. “So there were some nerves that factored into today, especially because this is only our second match and it’s against a tough team. So I think that nerves definitely factored into that. But I think once they’ve been able to gather additional playing experience that’s going to come to their benefit. … It’s good for us to receive this kind of competition early on to test us.”

Singles: Josh Marchalik (EB) d. Vishal Walia 6-1, 7-6 (7-4); Gokul Murugesan (JP) d. Abhimav Bhamidipati 6-1, 6-1; Alex Telson (JP) d. Vikas Dalal 6-3, 6-2. Doubles: Arjun Krishnan and Gouttham Chandrasekar (JP) d. Harold Trakhman and Akshay Malavade 6-4, 6-2; Nihar Prabhala and Tarush Aneja (JP) d. Isaak Elkind and Chris Choy 6-1, 6-2. Records: J.P. Stevens 2-1, East Brunswick 1-1.

Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eleven + five =

Menu Title